A Young Fashion Designer

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Time opens doors for those who know how to wait. If something should be owned by someone, it is; if not, then no matter how keen he is, it is not. This is what we called ‘destiny’ in ancient, oriental philosophy.

The essay is targeted in Kenzo Takada (known as Kenzo), who origin from Japan but famed in Paris. Choosing him as the target is mainly because his design is unique; the cutting is different but also not too distant, very practical, can be worn in daily life; the pattern is vivid and colourful, mix with elements from the nature and also contains the delight of global combination. As a Taiwanese, whose land had been occupied and dominated by Japanese, the culture in Taiwan and Japan are very similar, therefore, those traditional values are more understandable.

Fashion in Japan commenced quite late, even during the Taisho period (1912-26), wearing western clothing was a sign of sophistication and an expression of modernity. It was after the Second World War, fashion information from the USA and Europe began to spread throughout Japan. People in metropolitan centres in Japan, especially in Tokyo, began to consume Western fashion at a very rapid pace in the 1950s and 1960s, and whatever trend was popular in the west was imported to Japan or exact copied were reproduced locally. However, Japan was considered a market for western corporations to invest in, no matter how fashionable Japanese consumers became, Tokyo was never included in the global hierarchy of fashion centres nor did it receive any recognition as a fashion city in the same way that Paris, Milan or New York did, until the 1970s (Kawamura 2006).

It was Kenzo Takada, who changed the situation, who opened the door for Japanese designers to arrive in Paris. He is the pioneer.

According to Martin (2009), Kenzo Takada was born on 27 February 1939 in Himeji Japan. Very close to where he was born, it is the castle of Himeji, the oldest and best preserved of all Japanese strongholds. He was the fifth of seven children. Just like other usual Japanese family, he had a stiff father and a courageous mother.

The passion for fashion appeared when kenzo was young. He seldom played with classmate nor did he make trouble naughtily like others who were at the same age. Instead, he preferred stay at home, reading fashion magazines such as ‘Sun’ and ‘Himawari’ and sometime made dolls and dressed them for his sisters (Sainderichin 1999).

Traditionally, in Asian society, the role of each gender was deep-rooted. Male was not supposed to do sewing. Kenzo was desperate to enroll a sewing school like his sister but his father opposed the idea. By his family’s will, Kenzo attended University of Kobe, but he felt bored and quit it shortly.

Kenzo studied fashion photographs continuously; he experimented with patterns which accompanied the magazines, he waited, he searched… and eventually, in a train over another passenger’s shoulder, he read that the largest and most prestigious Japanese school of fashion, the Bunka College of Fashion in Tokyo, had begun to accept boys (Sainderichin 1999).

Kenzo knew right away that he had to make action. He moved to Tokyo, worked for a tofu-seller as a sign painter in daytime, and attended evening classes in an institute of fashion design. After six months, he was accepted as the first male student in Bunka College of Fashion.

Three years of studies, Kenzo won an important prize in the competition for the best model on the theme ‘Wool in summer’. After graduated from the college, he worked for Sanai department store as designer and Soen magazine as pattern designer.

In 1964, the building he lived in was going to be demolished for the Winter Olympics, the government gave him three hundred and fifty thousand yen in compensation for leaving. By owning this money, he decided that he wanted to go abroad to see the world.

Kenzo embarked at Yokohama on Cambodia, on the way it stopped over many cities, such as Hong...
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